Helsinki, Finland

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Russians Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert skated to the first Grand Prix gold medal of their career in Helsinki on Saturday. Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise of Italy took the silver, edging newcomers Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin of Russia by less than one point. The young Russian pair earned the bronze medal in their debut on the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating.

Skating to “Toi et Moi”, Zabiiako/Enbert produced a high triple twist, triple toe-double toe-double loop combination as well as an excellent throw triple loop and difficult lifts. Enbert fell on the triple Salchow and the throw triple flip was somewhat shaky, but the European silver medalists scored 130.92 points for the Free Skating and totaled 198.51 points to move up from second to first place.

“It means a lot to us to have won our first Grand Prix gold medal. It was a good experience for us,” Zabiiako said.

“For the first time we went into a Grand Prix as the top-seeded pair and there was a little pressure and it was harder. We usually skate much better in the short program and today it was hard,” Enbert added.

GP FIN Natalia Zabiiako alexander Enbert (RUS)2018©International Skating Union(ISU) 1056727872

Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert (RUS)©International Skating Union (ISU)

Overnight leaders Della Monica/Guarise completed a triple twist as well as a level-four lift and level-four pair spin in their program to “Tristan and Isolde” by Maxime Rodriguez. However, she doubled the side by side jumps Salchow and toeloop and also touched down on the throw triple loop.

The Italian Champions were ranked third in the Free Skating on 117.59 points and slipped from first to second at 185.77 points overall.

“This is our first silver medal on the Grand Prix. Last year we won our first medal, a bronze, so we are happy that we improved,” Della Monica said.

“Next time it maybe will be gold, who knows. It shows that we are on the right track. Our next Grand Prix is in Moscow, so we have one week to work a little bit more on our mistakes.”

GP FIN Nicole Della Monica Matteo Guarise (ITA)2018©International Skating Union(ISU) 1056727760

Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise (ITA)2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Pavliuchenko/Khodykin gave a strong performance to “The Great Gatsby”, landing a rarely seen side by side triple flip as well as a triple toe-double toe-double toe combination, throw triple flip and loop.

The World Junior Champions picked up a level four for their triple twist, but their last lift was wobbly. The Moscow pair came second in the Free Skating with 121.81 points and remained in third place overall on 185.61 points.

“We really enjoyed this competition. We skated well, but we had some mistakes and we hope we’ll skate better next time,” Pavliuchenko said.

“We are happy about our first medal in the Grand Prix, but this is only the first step in our skating. We will work more and more,” Khodykin added.

GP FIN Daria Pavliuchenko Denis Khodykin(RUS)2018©International Skating Union(ISU)GettyImages 1056727714

Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin (RUS)2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Miriam Ziegler/Severin Kiefer (AUT) placed fourth on 174.81 points, their best result in the Grand Prix Series to date, followed by Four Continents bronze medalists Tae Ok Ryom/Ju Sik Kim (PRK) on 174.24 points

For full results go here. Follow the discussion on social media by using #GPFigure #FigureSkating.